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23 May 2013

Why jargon isn’t thinking outside the box

‘Thinking outside the box’ probably sounded very cool the first time someone said it in a meeting room.

Jargon genesis
You can see the scene. The large meeting table. The stale air. The cold coffee. The sense of mild desperation.

The guy in charge (forgive me — I’m thinking in stereotypes) says, 'People, we have to think outside the box here' and the meeting is galvanised. The execs depart inspired. They have a bounce in their step.

'Think outside the box. That's really powerful,' they all think. And whenever they can, they try to conjure up some of the magic from that meeting. They say, 'think outside the box'.

Others like it too. It spreads like a virus, corporate to corporate. A new piece of jargon is born.

Language in the long term
When you read it in a report in 15 years time, ‘thinking outside the box’ will sound just as dated as the buzzwords of the 1990s — no longer flavour of the month. The report will lose a little of its relevance, and the writer a little of their authority.

Have the courage to think originally — outside the box. Write the plain phrases that have stood the test of time. In your choice of words, be sincere and be timeless.

Because when you say ‘think outside the box’, you’re talking inside the box.


  1. I wonder if anyone using this phrase is aware of its origins.

    Thinking outside the box, or square, resides in the psychology of order through pattern. A group, or individual, given a series of nine dots is asked to draw four straight, connected lines with which to intersect all points.

    The dots are assembled in three lines of three, and thus the mind forms a box or square, a familiar construct, and with this a preconception that the solution can only be found within these self-imposed boundaries.

    The solution is only found in extending the lines beyond the confines of shape, i.e., ignoring the familiar and, literally, thinking outside the box. There is no box.

    It is a pity that the concept is prevalent as mere jargon in business, rather than employed properly as an effective technique in creative problem solving.

  2. Think out side the box improve skills, sometime we trap in work or other situation that time we focused on this and try to how to handle situation, We can get solution for think outside the box in many cases. Beauty Supplements

  3. There is some literature out there about the advantages of thinking "inside the box", or in other words being forced to think creatively because of constraints. See for example The Houdini Solution: Put Creativity and Innovation to work by thinking inside the box.